Advent 4

Today we revisit the biblical account of the Annunciation and we encounter the figure of Mary, the maiden of Nazareth, again. Why is Mary important in our approach to Christmas? Is it just because of her role as natural mother of the Divine Son of God?

Yes, the crib is not complete with her there. Christmas cards are all the warmer and more tender when she is seen caressing her baby boy. But Mary is not a mere spectator, not a decoration, not an addendum to the Christmas story. There is a quality in Mary that poses a challenge to our life of faith. There is something in her life that makes us rethink the way we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Mary teaches us how to make room for Jesus. Before the angel came, Mary had whole life neatly planned before her. She was in a peaceful and religious Jewish home. She was engaged to be married to Joseph. Nothing seemed to upset the normal routine of a simple country girl.

But then the angel came, and Mary who was at first troubled by the message she received, gradually stretched her heart to accommodate God’s plan. That was not easy to do. God’s plan was not an alteration of her schedule, her itinerary, her activities. The plan centered on a child, a person. That would mean a lot of adjustments.

But she made space for Christ. In fact, she offered him the center of her heart.

Christmas as we celebrate it today takes our attention to many varied focuses. People are confused what gifts to give. There are so many parties to attend. Workers are eagerly waiting for the bonus. Students are gleefully looking forward to vacation and rest. Churches are busy planning programs for children and for the poor. All these concerns eat up space in our minds and hearts. And because of this, many people really forget the real meaning of Christmas.

A bishop gave a relevant reminder that we should not merely wait for Santa to come, but we must truly wait for Jesus to enter our lives this Christmas. Some people objected to this reminder, but it is very true! How many of us take this moment to celebrate the Eucharist with greater fervor? How many Filipinos take seriously the call of Simbang Gabi? Do we repeat the Christmas story to our family members? Are our celebrations filled with gratitude for the birth of Our Savior?

We need to encounter the Blessed Virgin of Nazareth to truly appreciate the demands of Christmas on our faith. We must make space for Christ, who is the center not only of religion, but of the beating, pulsing heart of his followers.

Mary, teach us how to make room for Jesus again!.